by Becky Tan

 When was the last time you saw the Milky Way? And we’re not talking about chocolate bars. Hamburgers cannot truthfully say that they have seen this constellation of stars recently, considering the strong city lights and the cloudy skies in this area of northern Germany. Maybe they saw the stars while vacationing in Florida or wandering around the Namib Desert or perhaps they were fortunate to be in Hamburg’s Planetarium.

After extensive renovations including the addition of 64 loud speakers for a 3D sound wave experience, the Planetarium presents a bombastic 50-minute show called “Night Flight through the Galaxy” (Nachtflug durch die Galaxis). Lean back into a reclining position and allow yourself to be guided through the heavens and the Milchstrasse (German for Milky Way) where nothing is less than billions: billions of stars, billions of light years away, billions of years before our sun will die, billions of years before two stars collide. This hugeness can convince even the most hard-core sceptic into considering some kind of religion.

This program, recommended for 10 years and older, comes via an American company, Evans & Sutherland, in Salt Lake City. It is in German, which you should know a bit in order to understand the details, although the music and the stars alone are completely convincing no matter your language.*

The Hamburg Planetarium also shows 22 other programs beginning daily from 10:00 or 11:00 until after 11 p.m. There are galaxy shows for children four years and older, shows which you can hear in English (and French and Spanish) or watch in 3D. The Planetarium offers theater, e.g., The Little Prince, concerts and pop music, e.g., the Beatles, Queen, Jean Michel Jarres, Pink Floyd, all with some kind of connection to the universe. Hamburg’s planetarium is the most successful in Germany with over three million visitors in the last 10 years.

Located at Hindenburgstrasse 1b on the west end of the Stadtpark, it’s across the street from City Nord and up Ohlsdorfer Strasse from Winterhude Marktplatz. There is easy parking right behind the planetarium at Linnéring. Tickets are 9,50 euros with special rates for groups, children, etc. Call 040-42886520, or see or write to For English go to Service & Information. Click Information for English-speaking visitors. Also, all the info under Lichtmond is in English.

 *English language audio guide available at the entrance

All photos from the show “Night Flight through the Galaxy”, courtesy of Planetarium Hamburg, copyright Evans & Sutherland